WB6 leaders Kotor

Western Balkans Summit on the Growth Plan: Strengthening Human Capital in the Public Administration is Essential

20 May 2024 News

15-16 May 2024, Kotor, Montenegro

Dedicated to the Growth Plan, which allocates 6 billion euros in grants and concessional loans to the Western Balkans, the Summit brought together leaders of the Western Balkans, Oliver VARHELYI, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, European Commission, James O’BRIEN, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, EU MS representatives and regional partners – including ReSPA representatives.

Host of the event, Prime Minister of Montenegro, Milojko SPAJIĆ, noted that the Government of Montenegro has “high expectations from the Growth Plan, and defined reform measures: from improving the business environment, digital and energy transition, to the rule of law”.

VARHELYI said that the Growth Plan is no longer a draft, but a road map, which is useful for the region before joining the EU: "Because of the Growth Plan and the intensity of aid from the economic and investment plan, the reform agenda and additional financial aid until 2027, the Balkans will be ready, or could be ready, or could make itself ready to join the EU".

O'BRIEN said that the priority of the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans is to create a single money circulation market, reduce costs, facilitate market movement and create more jobs: "The beauty of the Plan is that for each participant the message is clear - do your job and don't ask someone else to do something first, so you can do yours".

ReSPA Director HANDJISKA-TRENDAFILOVA highlighted the importance of strengthening human capital in the public administration, which is a key piece in the jigsaw of a successfully implemented Growth Plan, and ReSPA’s ironclad commitment to this goal: “The quality of institutions can be the vital factor to meaningfully harness this great growth and convergence opportunity ahead of us!”

Leaders of the Western Balkans endorsed the “Joint statement from the leaders of the Western Balkans Six (WB6) “One Region, Common Vision” which reemphasizes their commitment to further the cooperation in the region and use a renewed momentum in the EU’s enlargement policy.


The day before the Summit, Minister of European Affairs of Montenegro, Maida GORČEVIĆ hosted the Meeting of the Ministers of European Affairs and Finance of the Western Balkans, bringing together representatives of the European Commission and partner organizations – including ReSPA and the General Director for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, Gert JAN KOOPMAN.

The ministers discussed access to the single payment area in euros (SEPA), improvement of trade and transport facilities between the region's countries and EU members, and improvement of the supply of critical medicines and the Center for Digital Innovation.

Director HANDJISKA-TRENDAFILOVA reassured the Ministers and partners that through the ReSPA instruments of support, partnership capacity and the quick mobilization potential, as a regionally-owned organization focused on public sector human capital development ReSPA can swiftly contribute to initiatives such as the digital single market academy - in a collaborative, partnering fashion. ReSPA also commits to contribute towards meeting the objectives of the region’s reform agenda measures relevant to PAR, digitization, interoperability, cyber-resilience and all horizontal learning needs that can benefit from leveraging on a regional peer exchange approach.

Earlier this month, the European Commission approved a Plan worth six billion euros to support the countries of the Western Balkans aimed at accelerating reforms and economic growth in the region. Of that amount, two billion will be in grants and four billion in soft loans guaranteed by the EU.

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